Yet, African women attempting to start their own business are usually at a disadvantage due to cultural and gender biases and other factors such as limited access to education and finance, as well as, fewer entrepreneurial opportunities.
Fortunately, some African countries are beating the odds to produce a good number of female entrepreneurs. They have shown that the rise of women in entrepreneurship is not necessarily associated with the pace of their country’s wealth and economic development, as evidenced in the 2018 Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship (MIWE).
Based on the Index, here are the top 5 countries from Africa with the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs:
The West African country has 17.8 per cent of its businesses being owned by women, with cultural perceptions of women entrepreneurs being positive. Generally, the emphasis has been on small-scale and subsistence entrepreneurship for women but this is gradually changing as women are entering into daring fields in entrepreneurship such as Bilikiss Adebiyi, founder of a Lagos-based company which mainly focuses on recycling waste and cleaning up neighbourhoods through a recycling program and Yasmin Belo-Osagie, the co-founder of She Leads Africa (SLA), a Nigeria-based social enterprise that equips female entrepreneurs in Africa with the requisite financing, knowledge and network to build strong businesses.
Women own 18.8 per cent of businesses in the country and they tend to be well-educated as their male counterparts in tertiary education and have near-equal access to financial services to men. In effect, the country has made progress in reducing the gender bias for women engaging in early stage entrepreneurial activities.
Some of the women entrepreneurs who have risen to the top include Boitumelo Ntsoane (founder of Afrilink Healthcare), Phuti Mahanyele (Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital an investment holding company) and Polo Leteka Radebe of IDF Managers.
Women own 24.5 per cent of businesses in Botswana, with the country scoring well in percentages of female borrowing or saving for business against male as well as in support for SMEs.